Your Open Thread For Canadiens-Rangers

Honda Drive to the Playoffs, 6:30 PM
Host:
Bill Patrick
Analysts: Keith Jones, Brian Engblom and Mike Keenan

Montreal vs. NY Rangers, 7:00 PM
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Color: Joe Micheletti
Reporter: Bob Harwood

NBC Hypes Rangers-Bruins

NEW YORK – Mar. 16, 2010 – The New York Rangers travel to Boston to take on the Bruins in a game critical to both teams’ Eastern Conference playoff hopes on Sunday, March 14 at 12:30 pm ET on NBC Sports.

Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass reporter) call the action. McGuire will pull double duty, hosting NBC’s studio show alongside analyst Mike Milbury on site at TD Garden.

With the 2009-10 NHL regular season winding down, the Bruins and Rangers are fighting to be one of the eight teams to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. Currently, the Bruins are in eighth place with 72 points and the Rangers are in ninth place with 71 points.

MILBURY ON THE RANGERS: “They could summon it up and get on a roll. They’re the only team that has a legitimate chance to catch the Bruins.”

MCGUIRE ON THE BRUINS: “Some positive things for the Boston Bruins. One, they’re getting good goaltending from Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. Number two, Patrice Bergeron is coming back from a soar groin after the Olympics. He looks a lot better. He was dynamite in their huge win in Philadelphia. But the biggest thing is that they’re starting to get that team cohesion that they didn’t have earlier.”

CLOSE GAMES: All seven of NBC Sports’ NHL games this season have been decided by one goal, and five needed extra time to determine a winner.

On Sunday, March 14, the Washington Capitals defeated the host Chicago Blackhawks, 4-3, in overtime. Washington was trailing 3-0 in the final period before scoring three unanswered goals and ultimately winning the game with a fourth in OT. The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks in Chicago, 5-4, on March 7 on the strength of five second-period goals. On Feb. 7, the Capitals defeated the Penguins, 5-4, in overtime on Mike Knuble’s goal. In the game, Sidney Crosby scored twice for Pittsburgh and Alexander Ovechkin registered a hat trick for Washington.

The week prior, on Jan. 31, the Penguins were on the winning end when they defeated the Red Wings in a Stanley Cup Final rematch, 2-1, via an overtime shootout. On Jan. 24, the Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, on a power-play goal by Matt Cooke with 1:47 remaining. In NBC’s inaugural “Game of the Week” on Jan. 17, the Chicago Blackhawks needed a shootout to beat the Red Wings, 4-3, in Detroit.

The Boston Bruins needed overtime to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

NBCSPORTS.COM: NBCSports.com will again offer “Star-cam” this season, tracking a player from both teams throughout each of their shifts. Following the game, NBCSports.com will present bonus material, including “Star-cam” and “Net-cam” and bonus analysis from NBC Sports commentators.

FLEX SCHEDULING & CONSISTENT 12:30 PM ET START TIME: Again this year, “Game of the Week” broadcasts will consistently start at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sundays (except for Feb. 7 and Apr. 11, Noon ET start times). For the third straight season, the NHL and NBC Sports will utilize flex scheduling and will be able to select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, the NHL and NBC Sports will announce one of those games as the “Game of the Week” to be broadcast during the NBC Sports window. The other games will remain available to the teams’ regional carrier but will not be televised during NBC Sports’ broadcast window.

2010 NHL GAME OF THE WEEK REGULAR-SEASON FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE
(All Games Announced At Least 13 Days Prior)

Sunday, Apr. 4, 12:30 p.m. ET
Detroit @ Philadelphia

Sunday, Apr. 11, 12:00 p.m. ET
Boston @ Washington
New York Rangers @ Philadelphia
Detroit @ Chicago

More Good NHL News

NEW YORK (March 16, 2010) ??At the 1,000-game mark of the 2009-2010 season, the National Hockey League has continued to redefine success in the digital age. Across the NHL.com Web site, broadband video (including live games), social media and electronic commerce, the NHL is experiencing record consumer demand on its digital platforms.

Additionally, in the wake of the 2010 Winter Olympics, where NHL players staged one of the most memorable Olympic hockey tournaments of all time, the NHL has experienced audience increases on television and in arenas.

“The growth the NHL is delivering across multiple platforms is redefining the way the world looks at the league’s business,” said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. “We’ve created a deeper portfolio of big events and direct-to-consumer digital products, both of which have activated hockey fans across North America. Not only are these initiatives delighting fans, but they are creating new value for the League in the partner, broadcaster and advertising marketplaces as we build toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

At the 1,000-game mark the League’s business highlights include:

Record consumption of NHL digital media

With All-Access Vancouver programming taking NHL fans inside the Olympic hockey experience, Unique Visitors (UVs) to NHL.com for February rose 23 percent over last season despite 48 fewer NHL games.

There were more articles accessed at NHL.com in February 2010 vs. any other month in site history.

To date in March, UVs to NHL.com have increased 11 percent.

Video starts for NHL.com have risen 70 percent in March 2010 compared to March 2009.

On average, NHL.com has experienced a year-over-year increase in monthly UVs of 31 percent.

To date in March, NHL Mobile key traffic metrics, including visits and page views, have all increased by triple-digits year-over-year.

Sales of NHL GameCenter Live™ are up 15 percent over last season.

With the best assortment of NHL products, Shop.NHL.com sales have increased 11 percent and orders are up 19 percent over last season.

The NHL’s addressable audience on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms has grown nearly 200 percent since the beginning of the season.

Attendance increasing as Race For The Cup heats up

Attendance has increased 2 percent from pre-Olympic levels. Nineteen teams have experienced an increase in attendance since the Olympic break concluded.

Television ratings continue upward trend

Through five NBC Game of the Week telecasts, ratings are up 11 percent and viewers are up 17 percent.

NHL on VERSUS has experienced a 3 percent increase in ratings compared to the same time period last year. The network has also experienced increases in Men 25-54.

VERSUS exclusive game ratings are up 23 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Through February 14, 13 out of 24 (54 percent) U.S. team Regional Sports Networks have ratings showing year-over-year increases. Chicago (+118 percent), New York – Islanders (+100 percent) and Anaheim (+100 percent) have had the largest year over year increases.

Announcing a New Segment: VERSUS Fouls

Now that we know a ton more people can check out VERSUS, I think it’s the appropriate time to start this new segment.  Ever seen the Jersey Fouls on Puck Daddy?  Well, welcome to VERSUS fouls.

Note the above image, which I originally put up a week ago.  Alexander Ovechkin is the Capital captain, hence… VERSUS Foul.  Or when Steven Stamkos’ picture was due to be up for a statistical graphic, they showed Steven Stamkos… VERSUS Foul.  Or when they put up a graphic last night of “OVECHKIN SUSPENSION: IS 2 GAMES ENOUGH”… VERSUS Foul.

Of course, these are objective, but feel free to send them in, they will be posted, no matter what.  It can be a misspelling, a bad graphic, or even just a flub by an announcer.  It’ll go up here every Tuesday, even if I only get one.  Please don’t let this be the new mailbag segment.  Do the homework, take the pictures, check out VERSUS, and let’s make this a ton of fun.

Morning Music Breakdown

Good morning, all.  Hope you enjoyed the DirecTV-approved Bruins/Devils game last night.  Especially since the site is launching a new, VERSUS-themed weekly feature today at 10AM.  Be there.  Or be some other thing.

Also today, I’ll be following whether or not the Hawks will show up on Leno tonight, or just be in the crowd.  Stay tuned.  Sometimes it feels like the whole world’s coming to an end.